Monday, January 16, 2012

Speculation About Star Wars

A few months back I repeated the news that, among other things, Fantasy Flight Games has the rights for making the next Star Wars RPG. This came with both feelings of hope and disappointment from the community at large. After all, many people really do like Star Wars:Sagas Edition, and are still playing it to this day. Others are happy to see the move away from D20, or are just excited to see what FFG does with the franchise after their success with the 40k license and Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch/Black Crusade. While I don't have any information on the subject, I did want to speculate and talk about it. Maybe see if we can start some discussion on the matter.

Dark Heresy's System
When I first heard about FFG getting the rights to the system, one of my first thoughts was that I hope they don't just try to convert the Dark Heresy system for the game. After further thought though, I'm not sure this would be such a bad thing provided they adjusted for it. Star Wars is a universe more about the person than the gear, but gear is still important. DH has a system that can already let that feeling shine through with just a bit of tweaking to how bonuses and base character stats work.

Essentially, PCs in Star Wars should have a higher average base stat than a 30 at first level. However, it probably shouldn't be significantly higher when you also include things like gear and equipment affecting things. Also, the degrees of success system feels like it could work wonderfully with the feel of Star Wars, provided you made it so successes were easier to attain.

Combat and Jedi
This is the big problem area for most Star Wars system. Jedi are supposed to be ridiculously powerful in combat. They are commonly depicted as going one on 10+ with non-jedi opponents and winning easily. However, by giving that power to a jedi PC it can make it hard to have fun with a non-jedi PC. The 40k systems though do seem to have a few things built in that could make that easy.

For one, dodging/parrying is hard to come by in DH, but a Jedi could easily be given a "parry for free as many times as you want" ability at a certain rank to prevent that, as well as an ability to parry ranged attacks w/ energy based weapons when wielding a lightsaber. This gives the big reason why Jedi are able to take on large groups so easily, they are hard to hit at ranged. The rest of the feel can be done by simply giving Jedi bonus damage to hordes w/ their lightsabers to reflect the weapon easily passing through armor. I say use the Horde system as it is rare for their to be a "large" combat in Star Wars without most of one sides enemy being faceless minions with full helments or simply being robots.

But what about the other PCs? Well, this is where gear and other abilities can come in to save the day. PCs with full auto weaponry can still take down hordes really easily, and other aspects of the system can be used to keep them useful even if they have to worry about things like cover more often. The base damage in Dark Heresy can be maintained, meaning that being hit once can be a real downer for someone and death comes easily. This is even true in Star Wars (everyone who gets hit in the original trilogy with maybe 2 exceptions is immediately down/out of the fight), it just isn't focused on to keep the atmosphere light.

The Force
This leaves only one area that would need to be addressed, which is the force. Now, in combat the way DH handles psykers would work. You don't often see a jedi using an offensive force power and attacking with a lightsaber or other weapon at the same time. It is always one or the other, and DH is already set up to handle this with "action types" and the inability to perform the same kind of action twice. However, other force abilities would have to be carefully handled to not make them overwhelming.

This is where DH has its biggest failing. Psychic powers are ridiculous in the 40k universe, and thus the games, because the psychic has a chance of dying every time they use their powers. This isn't true in the Star Wars universe. In fact, it is rare for a force user to even look tired after doing incredible feats with the force. Though, they do become vulnerable to other things if they go all out it seems.

Essentially, what I am saying is that the video game trick of "force choke opponent then skewer with laser sword for easy win" would need to be addressed, especially in a pvp scenario or one where a non-force using PC was being attacked by a force user. Still, with some brainstorming and such that should be doable.

Your Thoughts?
What are you hoping for out of the new Star Wars system? When do you think they'll make an announcement? My personal belief is they'll try to have something ready for Gencon. Whether that is a release or just an announcement though is beyond me.


  1. A good read and interesting thoughts. You do a good comparing trying to fit the mechanics of the future Star Wars RPG to Dark Heresy and to FFG's line of 40K books, but never mention FFG's more experimental Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition RPG.

    Are you familiar with that game system? Do you like FFG's reliance on specialty dice, cards, and other bits in an RPG? Do you think that type of system would be good for a Star Wars RPG?

    How would you handle Starship combat which is a huge part of Star Wars?

    While using the force isn't particularly dangerous to a Jedi the way using psychic powers are in Dark Heresy, there should be some consequences that could send a Jedi down the path to the Dark Side.

    Overall, a good read. Hopefully we'll have some answers at this year's GenCon.

  2. I actually haven't played the Fantasy game, and tragically had assumed it was a similar system. I'll have to check it out now.

    I don't mind specialty dice and cards in RPGs, provided it doesn't go too crazy. I like RPGs where a handful of dice and some paper can do me for traveling to game (assuming books are there) not where I have to bring a whole cart of stuff.

    As far as ship combat. Fighter combat might be hard, but Rogue Trader already has serviceable tactical ship combat rules that could be applied. Vehicular combat from the same system could also work. The only issue I see here is that FFG has a tendency for setting armor values at a lot lower than I feel they should be for the universe. That can be fixed though.